On Monday, RIDOT will open new access from Dean Street northbound to 6/10 Connector inbound which provides direct access to Route 95 north and south.
RIDOT will open the new left turn lane on Dean Street after the Monday morning rush. Prior to this left turn being open, access from Dean Street to the 6/10 Connector has been limited to southbound Dean Street traffic only. Northbound traffic was forced to make various loops on local streets to reach 6/10. The removal of the Broad Street ramp to Route 95 southbound as part of the Iway project has limited the ability of traffic from Federal Hill to reach 95 south. Traffic approaching the old Broad Street onramp has been detoured to Allens Avenue via Point Street to a temporary onramp at Blackstone Street. Traffic heading south of 6/10 on 95 has been encouraged to get on Route 10 south via Broadway.
While on the rare occasion that I have a car and drive in the area, I’ve found access from Dean Street to 95 south to be vexing, I am a bit disappointed by this new inter
sectionchange. It has no doubt been confusing to not have the Broad Street ramp, even Google tells people to make an illegal u-turn at West Exchange Street to reach 95 south from Federal Hill. But the fact is, we have access to 6/10 south to 95 south. If you need to reach 95 between the city and 6/10, there will eventually be a ramp to 95 south from Point Street, replacing the lost Broad Street ramp. There has not been a left turn here for time immemorial, so why the need for it now?
Yes, it will move traffic better from the Hill onto Route 95, but at what cost? The cost of pedestrians I think. While I’ve personally given up trying to be a pedestrian on the Dean Street viaduct (I had a meeting at The Foundry earlier this week which I walked to via the mall), that shouldn’t be the way it is.
It is approximately 1 mile as the crow flies from Francis Street to the Atwells Avenue bridge over the 6/10 Connector, and the only place to cross 6/10 on foot within that mile is the Dean Street viaduct. As I discussed in my Dean Street REBOOT post, the pedestrian environment on the Dean Street viaduct is a disaster. As someone who has lived in cities all my adult life, car-free, I am an aggressive pedestrian, but the Dean Street viaduct has me beat, it is too dangerous for me. But being the only foot connection between Federal Hill and Smith Hill/Valley/Promenade, people still risk their lives walking over it daily.
By creating traffic movements that were not possible before, and maintaining a highway design, RIDOT is bringing more highspeed traffic into this area, putting pedestrians even more at risk.
Prior to this reconstruction, Dean Street had four lanes here, with a median providing a shelter for pedestrians making their way across Dean Street. The new configuration boosts Dean Street to 5 lanes with no median for pedestrians to seek shelter on. While there are working (for now at least) walk lights at this intersection, a 5 lane road within the city limits is just not good street building.
The economy has cooled off the redevelopment of the Promenade area with ALCO slowing down and a hotel proposal seemingly off the table; but the city still wants to see development and investment in the Promenade, and this poor economy will (hopefully) end someday. Without proper pedestrian connections between the Promenade and Federal Hill, the full potential of both areas will be stunted. The city and state (as owner of the Viaduct) need to work toward improving this vital pedestrian link. This new intersection on Dean Street and it’s design are a step in the wrong direction.